SHOOTING DOGS (Michael Caton-Jones). 114 minutes. Opens Friday (July 28). For venues and times, see Movies, page 107. Rating: NNN
Shooting Dogs is a fact-based drama of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when Hutus slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days while UN troops stood by, mandated only to "observe."
Both Hotel Rwanda and Shake Hands With The Devil are better movies on the subject, more detailed about the nature of the horror and its causes, more harrowing to watch. But stories of the genocide, like the Holocaust, do need to be told and retold until everybody gets the point.
This is a strong film, well shot. It centres on Father Christopher ( John Hurt ), who heads the Technical School and maintains his own and others' faith even as the inevitable massacre, triggered by the UN pullout, draws near. Hugh Dancy (Black Hawk Down) is the idealistic young teacher who serves as his foil. They play well off each other, though Hurt, with his weary face, mild manner and rock-solid strength, is a far better actor with a far better role than the one given to Dancy, who's mainly stuck with conveying shock and outrage.
The question of faith in the face of horror makes for engaging drama. We're torn between admiring Father Christopher and wishing he'd at least try to escape. But focusing on two Englishmen and relegating the Rwandans to mere supporting players, and underdeveloped ones at that, takes away from the tragedy.